Run Wild Missoula, host of the annual Missoula Marathon, is currently monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak. At the moment, it seems like there is not a major reason for a marathon cancellation; however, since large public gatherings can cause an outbreak, there is cause for concern. Tony Banovich from Run Wild Missoula spoke to KGVO about planning for this year’s marathon in the midst of a coronavirus panic.

“We’re keeping an eye on what’s going on in the industry. Our industry groups that represent the sport of running—like Running USA, USA Track and Field, World Athletics—are starting to put out some things. At this point, in the US, people are keeping an eye on what’s going on. In the US, there have not been any [running] events that have been cancelled.”

Banovich says that a marathon in Tokyo that typically attracts around 30,000 runners was cancelled for everyone except a small group of elite athletes. However, the Olympic Trials last week in Atlanta, Georgia, continued as scheduled.

About a possible cancellation, Banovich says the Health Department would make that call.

“If a big outbreak comes to the United States—anywhere in the US, because we bring people in from all over the country to the race—that would be the worst-case scenario, [if] the Health Department says, ‘sorry, we just can’t sanction this.’ They have large group event permits specifically for things like this, to talk about safety and health issues; that you have sufficient hand washing stations,” Banovich mentions, so precautions would be in place regardless.”

In looking towards the next few months, Banovich says, “we’ll just keep our eyes on it and watch what happens. We’re going to hope for the best, and as we get nearer to the race, we’ll have more conversations with the Health Department and see what it means.”

Banovich says that the marathon brings at least $2 million to Missoula each year. To learn more about this year’s marathon, held from June 26 through June 28, visit the website here.

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